Jackson Sales Surge But Country Lags

hannahmontana3_238x257The week ending 6/28/09 saw week-over-week (w/w) country sales drop 24% and overall music sales fall 8%. For country it was the week after Fathers Day and the CMT Awards, plus there were no new country CD debuts to give fans an extra reason to shop. For the overall industry, it was the week that Michael Jackson died—stirring a firestorm of media attention and copious downloads. In fact, the top 3 selling albums this week were all from the deceased King of Pop, with each one selling over 100k units: Number Ones (107,808); Essential Michael Jackson (102,023); and Thriller (101,042). Also noteworthy, according to SoundScan, 57% of all MJ album sales (421,000) this week were digital (241,000).

Digital Download Dialog
Among country consumers, the digital album sales picture is nowhere as large as might be indicated based upon the MJ stats. Last year, digital country album sales as a percentage of total album sales equaled about 7.2%. This year (2009) country album downloads have jumped to 11.4%. A nice leap to be sure, but a far cry from the tech-savvy mouse clicks of the pop consumers where about 21.5% of total CD sales are digital.

Current Country
The Hannah Montana movie soundtrack (34,397) remained in the top spot on Current Country Albums (10th consecutive week), but sales only exceeded the No. 2 contender, Taylor Swift, by 397 units. Moving up to the No. 3 position is the feisty Zac Brown Band which scanned 23,799 units this week. Kenny Chesney (22,209) and Jason Aldean (20,533) filled out the Top 5.

Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” was the top country digital track, downloading 74,968 copies this week placing the song in soon-to-be Platinum status (825k). Miley Cyrus sold 53,712 digital “Climb” tracks for a to-date total of about 1.87 million. “Out Last Night” from Kenny Chesney came in third, clicking its way to 41,510 downloads in its fourth week on the tracks chart.

Looking ahead we have the just released American Saturday Night from Brad Paisley which should add some spice to next week’s totals…

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About the Author

David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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